My brother Mitch, my father, and I went to a Colosse Canes baseball game. It worked out perfectly because they already had tickets and it gave Mitch and I the opportunity to spend some time together. My other brother Oliver has a wife that‘s giving birth in the next week or two has since given birth, so he’s sort of tied up at the moment.

I hadn’t realized that I would be going to a baseball game or else I would have bought down my precious Canes baseball cap (precious because it’s a size 8, difficult to find). I don’t have any shirts or anything else, but as luck would have it my father has one that he goes running in and so I was able to be appropriately attired.

I was a bit conflicted as to how to cheer. I haven’t really been a fan of the Canes since leaving Colosse or really for a while before that. I mostly bought the cap out of regional pride. I wanted to buy the cap from when I followed the team, but alas the most current was all they had available. But the real reason I was conflicted was that the starting pitcher for Queen City was a fellow alum of Southern Tech University. Not that I knew him or anything, but he pitched for our team.

The game did not stay close for long. The Trumans make a point not to get bored at baseball games and we never, ever leave early. So we entertained ourselves with talk of the league. A while back I created a spreadsheet with all of the markets for the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Mitch and I talked about where the MLB would expand to if they took my advice. I quizzed both Mitch and Dad on which market is the biggest without any teams in those three leagues and which market is the smallest to have a team in any of those leagues (anyone who wants to hazard a guess is free to do so* – using real-world city names, of course).

Dad was really proud of himself for having taken a plastic knife with him. I didn’t understand why until we got our chili dogs and I struggled to part mine up with just a fork. It’s amazing how times change. There was a day when Dad would die rather than spend $7 on a hot dog. Or I would die rather than spend $8 on a beer.

Budweiser is apparently running a deal where if you agree to be a designated driver they will buy you two free soft drinks. Dad took them up on that, but I declined. I figure I don’t get to go to games very often and a beer at a game was something I wanted to do. As with my previous experience with alcohol when I was stranded in Meriwether, it didn’t take much to get me inebriated. Mitch and I drunkenly discussed the future of college football on the way home.

* – Update: Since a couple people are actually taking a stab at the questions, I figured I would post a bit about the methodology. The answers are in the comment section, so don’t read through the comments if you intend to guess.

The most important is that if a city is within a 90-minute drive of another city with a team, it’s considered too close. That bumps up to 150 minutes if the cities do not both have teams in any league. So Green Bay and Milwaukee are considered the same market, as are Orlando and Tampa and San Jose and San Fransisco. Raleigh and Charlotte (and LA and San Diego) would be different cities.

Yeah, the rules are kind of arbitrary, but I needed a formula for what I was working on at the time. I was aggressive about coupling markets together, but that was to deprive the person I was debating with of an easy argument (“You list all of these potential markets but some don’t count because they’re too close to other markets and therefore I am going to conveniently ignore all of your other points!”). It was related to this.

The numbers are taken from the MSA from the census. In the event that there is an “anchor city” (Milwaukee to Green Bay, San Antonio to Austin) we’re looking at the population of the MSA. The original census numbers I was looking at were from a few years ago, though I’ve done some spot-checking to see what’s changed (ie New Orleans, Oklahoma City getting a basketball team, and so on). Feel free to challenge if you think I missed something.


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14 Responses to Take Me Out To The Ballgame

  1. Transplanted Lawyer says:

    Sounds like a great day!

  2. Peter says:

    Green Bay *may* be the smallest market with an NFL team. There is some doubt because the Packers also may be considered a Milwaukee team. Otherwise, Jacksonville or New Orleans are probably the smallest NFL markets, possibly Buffalo. I’m going to guess that Oklahoma City is the smallest NBA market and Kansas City is the smallest in MLB.

    Los Angeles is of course the biggest non-NFL market and Las Vegas is the biggest with no major sports teams.

  3. trumwill says:

    That’s really impressive, Peter.

    Oklahoma City is actually larger than New Orleans and Salt Lake City (the latter of which being the answer), but they’re all pretty close (along with Memphis).

    There is an “anchor city” provision that prevents places like Green Bay, Orlando, and Riverside-San Bernardino from being considered in various categories. Jacksonville was the correct answer when I originally did the polling, but New Orleans is the answer now (and Buffalo is now behind Jacksonville, too).

    Las Vegas is correct. That was what really tripped Mitch and Dad up. Were it not for the anchor city provision, I’m pretty sure Riverside-San Bernardino would be the answer in every “no team” category. Columbus and Austin would be competitive, but they’re anchored with Cincinnati and San Antonio.

    Kansas City is not a bad guess, but the answer is Milwaukee.

  4. trumwill says:

    Las Vegas is correct.

    Scratch that. Vegas is correct for baseball*, I think, but there are a lot of big markets that basketball doesn’t have a presence in. I think San Diego is the largest, but I’m not sure.

    The original question I asked was for all three, so the answers were SLC and LV. SLC is a bit unexpected simply because it seems so geographically large. Vegas’s population spurt has been so recent I don’t think it’s entered people’s minds as a being a bonafide metropolis.

    * – Mike Hunt was correct, in baseball it’s Portland. The question I asked Mitch and Dad was for all sports rather than individually, so I was going by-ear on the individual sports.

  5. Peter says:

    Salt Lake City is not completely teamless as it has the Jazz.

    I agree than San Diego is probably the biggest market without an NBA team.

  6. trumwill says:

    Salt Lake City is the answer to the other question: What is the smallest city with a team in one of the three big leagues?

  7. Peter says:

    In the late 1980’s Hartford made a relatiively serious bid to attract the Patriots. At the time, the Patriots were a lousy team and were dissatisfied with their current stadium. The local economy got really bad, and the plan soon fizzled out.

  8. trumwill says:

    I put a team in Hartford in one of my fictional leagues. It had a great team name (it was my favorite out of all of them), but dang if I can remember what it was. I vaguely remember them making a run at the Patriots. Hartford is actually not that poorly situated as far as the NFL goes. As Green Bay demonstrates, you can pull people from far away 8 Sundays a year. I’ve wondered if maybe the next NFL franchise should go to Riverside rather than LA or Anaheim on that basis. They could draw significantly from Riverside-San Bernardino as well as the die-hards from LA (and have the LA TV market).

  9. Mike Hunt says:

    A lot of this depends on how we define our terms, but here are my answers…

    The smallest market with a team in the Big Three is Green Bay. If you happen to think GB doesn’t count, then the answer is New Orleans.

    The largest market without a team in the Big Three is Raleigh. Of course, they have an NHL team, and borders on Charlotte, which has both an NFL team and an NBA team.

    By sport:
    MLB
    Largest without is Orlando. Smallest with is Milwaukee.

    NFL
    Largest without is Los Angeles. Smallest with is Green Bay.

    NBA
    Largest without is Tampa. Smallest with is New Orleans.

  10. trumwill says:

    I should put the rules/definitions in the main post. I didn’t actually expect anyone to guess.

    The most important is that if a city is within a 90-minute drive of another city with a team, it’s considered too close. That bumps up to 150 minutes if the cities do not both have teams in any league. So Green Bay and Milwaukee are considered the same market, as are Orlando and Tampa and San Jose and San Fransisco. Raleigh and Charlotte (and LA and San Diego) would be different cities.

    Yeah, the rules are kind of arbitrary, but I needed a formula for what I was working on at the time.

    The numbers are taken from the MSA from the census. In the event that there is an “anchor city” (Milwaukee to Green Bay, San Antonio to Austin) we’re looking at the population of the MSA. The original census numbers I was looking at were from a few years ago, though I’ve done some spot-checking to see what’s changed (ie New Orleans, Oklahoma City getting a basketball team, and so on). Feel free to challenge if you think I missed something.

    So take another stab at your Orlando/Tampa answers and change any of the others you might have rethought.

  11. Mike Hunt says:

    If you are putting Tampa and Orlando together, then San Francisco/Oakland and Sacramento also go together.

    In that case, the largest market without MLB would be Portland, OR.

    Ironically, the largest market without the NBA would be Seattle.

  12. trumwill says:

    Sacramento is in a gray area. They’re close enough to Oakland, but not San Fransisco or San Jose. So it depends on how you look at it. It’s a moot point, though, since there are no instances where there is a team in San Fransisco or San Jose but not Oakland (unless we’re looking at the NHL).

    Good call on Portland!

    Wrong on Seattle, however. I was thinking the same thing, though, until I remembered San Diego.

    You also got Milwaukee and (of course) LA right. Raleigh is not a bad guess, but is (somewhat narrowly) beat out by Las Vegas. New Orleans is sliiiiightly larger than Salt Lake City.

  13. Mike Hunt says:

    According to a popular mapping website, it is an 88 minute drive between Oracle Arena in Oakland and ARCO Arena in Sacramento, thereby combining the markets according to your rules.

    I think the differing answers are because the borders of media markets and metropolitian areas are different.

    Also, you don’t HAVE to wear a baseball cap to a baseball game. As George Carlin said, he enjoyed looking at pictures of old baseball games because the only ones wearing caps are the players…

  14. trumwill says:

    According to a popular mapping website, it is an 88 minute drive between Oracle Arena in Oakland and ARCO Arena in Sacramento, thereby combining the markets according to your rules.

    Yeah, the question is whether it has to be 90 minutes from the nearest city in an MSA or from the city with the team. If the latter, then Sacramento and San Fransisco would be their own markets even though Oakland would be with San Fransisco. To be honest, I hadn’t specified when I was drawing up the criteria. If it turned out to be significant, such as if Oakland didn’t have the A’s, I probably would have still counted Sacramento as being anchored when it came to availability for an expansion baseball team. But as I said, it’s kind of a moot point since Oakland has a team in all three sports. And since those two are within the barrier, they’re anchored for all three sports.

    It’s difficult to get hats in my size, so I’m excited to have one. I haven’t been able to wear a cap to a game since I was a kid and it would have been cool to be able to do so again. That’s the main reason for my disappointment. Dad didn’t wear a cap, either.

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